Superstar Student Miguel's Cancer & Funeral Costs

UPDATE: It is with a heavy heart we share that Miguel passed away this weekend (8/14-15) as his beautiful heart stopped. We are continuing the GoFundMe to help for the addition of funeral costs for his family. 

A superstar student, winner of the Coca-Cola Scholarship, and beloved friend, 20 year-old, Miguel Sanchez-Tortoledo, a would-be junior at Middlebury College was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and was in a coma for a number of weeks before his heart stopped this weekend. Miguel drove to improve the future of his family. We ask for your support to help his family cover medical and funeral expenses.

It is easy to root for Miguel Sanchez. He had a relentless drive and a contagious positivity that belie the extraordinary obstacles he had to overcome. We would be remiss not to mention how funny and likeable Miguel was. Miguel learned to laugh through pain and to be an uplifting force in other people’s lives even when his was dark and chaotic.

In high school, Miguel was an active leader in both his school, and community. While overcoming the hardships of his younger brother's battle with cancer, and pursuing his academic goals as a first-generation, low income student, Miguel always found time to brighten the world for others as a well-known leader in marching band and a favorite co-worker and employee at his part-time jobs. He worked on his college applications on his phone under his tuba during marching band and on his breaks around mid-night when working the night shift at a local burger joint. He also interned for City Hall and mentored younger students during his breaks. His willingness to be vulnerable, open and also silly made every group dynamic he joined so much better. Over the summer, he generously gave multiple students rides to and from college prep workshops and college events. 

And after winning a full ride to Middlebury, his passion for serving others only grew. He was elected Freshman senator by the largest majority and re-elected as Sophomore senator while in the hospital under chemo this spring! He led many events (a massive pizza party among them) to welcome younger students and built close relationships with faculty as he negotiated for an extra day of holiday break. He instituted a practice of offering students coffee with Miguel, where his peers who had issues to discuss about his policies could sit down and discuss their opinions directly with him. He was also the youngest person hired to work in the Student Financial Services office. He dug in fully to life!

During his first year at Middlebury, he shared the following: 

After completing my fourth week of college, I can already predict that these will be the next four years of my life. It has only been a few weeks, but I have already toured deep into a swamp, gone horse-back riding, planted flowers, gone apple picking, made pizza from scratch in our farm, made s'mores in the fireplace, got a job at the Student Financial Services, and elected First-Year Senator. I have already grown so much as a person and as a leader in such little time. I am also in the middle of learning Chinese, and I have never been more excited to be fluent with the language.

“我玩得很开心” - I am having so much fun

Miguel was committed to helping those who are less fortunate, through pursuing a career in law, and to bettering himself at each opportunity. Miguel’s will to succeed and willingness to learn from those who may be able to help him on his journey was remarkable. We were routinely struck by Miguel’s sense of joy and deep gratitude. He had enormous responsibility on his shoulders in school, at work, and at home, but he was always fighting forward. We hope he is now at peace in a better place. 

While going through chemo this spring he was working on scholarship applications from his hospital bed! He shared in a text:
I hate the pain of after surgery, but I love the people that i’m meeting and the connection that i’m improving with my family 

We are truly heartbroken to share the news of Miguel's passing, and we ask for your prayers and support for his family.  
 If you would like to send more detailed notes for his family, please send them to [email redacted] 

Thank you to Christian Alexander, a friend of Miguel's, for helping Team Better Angels, a college access non-profit Miguel joined, set this up. And a HUGE THANK YOU to all the generous donors who are helping us to reach even farther for Miguel's family.

Horseback riding in college! 
Proudly wearing his college shirt! Mentoring youth in his community.

Below are a few pictures of the many awards won by Miguel that decorated his hospital room.

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Organizer and beneficiary

Sanchez-Tortoledo Family
Menifee, CA
Juana Tortoledo

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